Algeria is considering the Adcom Systems Yabhon United 40 Block 5 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to fulfill its medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) requirement, a company official said at the Dubai Air Show 2013.
Speaking to IHS Jane's on 17 November, CEO and general designer Ali Al Dhaheri said an Algerian delegation had been to view the aircraft in the static display area with a view to procuring it.
The North African country is looking for an unmanned platform to track militants and traffickers in its vast southern desert regions, and while Algerian media has previously revealed that the air force is interested in the US-made General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GAASI) Predator/Reaper platform, this is the first time the United Arab Emirates (UAE)-developed Yabhon United 40 Block 5 has been touted as a possible candidate. The Algerian Air Force does currently operate the Denel Dynamics Seeker UAV, and the Denel Seeker 400 and Selex Falco have also been touted as potential candidates.
First revealed in scale model form in 2007, the Yabhon United 40 Block 5 UAV features Adcom's distinctive double fore and aft main-wing configuration. The twin-turboprop platform has a 17.53 m wingspan (giving a 24.3 m squared lifting area across the two wing sets), is 11.3 m in length, and stands 4.38 m tall.
Performance specifications released at the Dubai Air Show give the Yabhon United 40 Block 5 a cruise speed of 120-200 kph, an endurance of over 100 hours, and a service ceiling of 26,000 ft. In terms of payload, the aircraft is fitted with synthetic aperture radar (SAR), terrain avoidance systems and a gimbaled camera. It can carry 1,050 kg on its four underwing hardpoints and has a 6-unit rotating dispenser mounted in the fuselage.
The two Yabhon United 40 Block 5 UAVs displayed at the show (both of which have been built for unspecified customers) were shown fitted with four Adcom Systems Namrod stand-off missiles (two under each wing), and two torpedoes on the centreline hardpoints (which can be equipped with a company-made wing-kit for enhanced stand-off capabilities). The internal rotating dispenser can drop munitions or 24 sonobouys.
Al Dhaheri told IHS Jane's that test firings of the Namrod had already taken place from the Yabhon United 40 Block 5 UAV.
Al Dhaheri declined to comment on whether the Algerians were looking at an armed option, or what their specific mission requirements were. According to Al Dhaheri, the Yabhon United 40 Block 5 is designed primarily for ISR. If Algeria does sign up, it will join Russia, which signalled its intention to acquire the UAE-developed platform earlier this year.